Extending applications of AFM to fluidic AFM in single living cell studies

Yuan Qiu, Chen Chi Chien, Basile Maroulis, Jiani Bei, Angelo Gaitas, Bin Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this article, a review of a series of applications of atomic force microscopy (AFM) and fluidic Atomic Force Microscopy (fluidic AFM, hereafter fluidFM) in single-cell studies is presented. AFM applications involving single-cell and extracellular vesicle (EV) studies, colloidal force spectroscopy, and single-cell adhesion measurements are discussed. FluidFM is an offshoot of AFM that combines a microfluidic cantilever with AFM and has enabled the research community to conduct biological, pathological, and pharmacological studies on cells at the single-cell level in a liquid environment. In this review, capacities of fluidFM are discussed to illustrate (1) the speed with which sequential measurements of adhesion using coated colloid beads can be done, (2) the ability to assess lateral binding forces of endothelial or epithelial cells in a confluent cell monolayer in an appropriate physiological environment, and (3) the ease of measurement of vertical binding forces of intercellular adhesion between heterogeneous cells. Furthermore, key applications of fluidFM are reviewed regarding to EV absorption, manipulation of a single living cell by intracellular injection, sampling of cellular fluid from a single living cell, patch clamping, and mass measurements of a single living cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3222-3238
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • atomic force microscopy
  • extracellular vesicle
  • fluidic atomic force microscopy
  • single living cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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